Readers’ Choice -Top Blog Posts of 2017

December 21, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

As we wrap up another year, we’d like to take a moment to look back on some of our most popular posts. We pride ourselves on providing informative content for our readers by covering a range of wired and wireless technology topics. We sincerely hope that you enjoyed reading our posts as much as we enjoyed writing them and in case you missed anything, here’s a highlight reel of the most popular posts of 2017.

 

 1.       Cable Showdown: Cat6 vs. Cat6a

 

It’s a Cat eat Cat world out there and Cat6 and Cat6a are two of the most popular standards for Ethernet cables. So, how do you decide between the two? One may work better than the other, depending on your application. To help you pick a winner, we compared them side-by-side for a showdown of category proportions. To see how each Cat fared, read the post.

 

 

2.       White-Space Wi-Fi 802.11af

 

Waste not, want not, seems to be a growing way of life for many people these days, and that theme will soon apply to the Wi-Fi spectrum as well. The IEEE standard 802.11af, also known as white-space Wi-Fi or White-Fi, will utilize the unused space in the TV spectrum, the TV white-space, to support Wi-Fi networks. Read the post to find out how it all works.

 

 

3.       OM5 – The Next Generation of Multimode Fiber

 

OM5 was chosen to be the new standard for cabling containing wideband multimode fiber in the 3rd edition of the ISO/IEC 11801 standard. The acceptance of this standard is a milestone for the fiber cabling performance category because it extends the benefits of this revolutionary multimode fiber within connected buildings and data centers worldwide. To find what you need to know about OM5, click here.

 

 

4.       802.11ax – The Next Big Thing

 

The IEEE will be adding to its 802.11 series of standards again with the launch of 802.11ax. 802.11ax is under development and will pick-up where 802.11ac left off by taking MIMO to the next level with MIMO-OFDM. This next big upgrade to Wi-Fi networks might not make its debut for a couple of years, but here’s a look at what’s coming.

 

 

5.       75 Ohm vs. 50 Ohm – Coaxial Comparison

 

Ohm may sound like something you’d say while meditating, but when it comes to coaxial cables, it is actually a unit of resistance. Ohms measure the impedance within the cable. Impedance is resistance to the flow of electrical current through a circuit. To see how 75 Ohm and 50 Ohm compare, read our post.

 

 

Cable Shielding Deciphered

June 1, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

It’s no surprise that shielded cables are a hot topic, they can improve performance and are available in Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6a and Cat7 versions. In past blog posts, we’ve talked about the advantages of shielded cables and how they protect from EMI/RFI and alien crosstalk (AXT). We’ve dug deeper to explore the different types of shielded cables and their benefits. We’ve even shown how to make your own shielded cable. Now, we’re going to take a closer look at the acronyms used to designate the different types of cable shielding and how to decipher them.

 

Cable shielding, also called screening, can be made of a metallic braid, or metallic or polyester foil. The shielding is either wrapped around all 4 pairs of twisted pair cable, just the individual conductor pairs, or both the entire cable and individual pairs.  In a shielded code, the letters before the slash designates the shielding on the entire cable; the code after the slash signifies shielding for the individual pairs.  For example:

 

Here is a glossary of terms to help you decode cable shielding:

 

 

FTP – Foiled Twisted Pair : An additional layer of protection is created with shielding/screening wrapped around the individual twisted wires. 

 

STP – Shielded Twisted Pair : Braided shielding wrapped around the individual twisted wires adds a layer of protection.

 

F/UTP – Foiled/Unshielded Twisted Pair : An overall foil shield encases the 4 pairs of unshielded twisted pair. Commonly used in 10GBaseT applications.


S/UTP – Shielded/Unshielded Twisted Pair :  An overall braid shield is wrapped around all 4 pairs of unshielded twisted pair.


SFTP – Shielded and Foiled Twisted Pair : Foil shielding around the individual twisted wires and an overall shield that is sometimes a flexible braided shield. This provides the highest level of protection from interference.

 

SF/UTP – Shielded and Foiled/Unshielded Twisted Pair : Both an overall braid screen and foil shield with unshielded twisted pairs. Occasionally referred to as an STP cable, these cables are very effective at protecting EMI/RFI from entering or exiting the cable.


S/FTP – Shielded Foiled/Twisted Pair : An overall braid shield with foil-shielded twisted pairs. The shield underneath the jacket is a braid and each individual pair is surrounded by its own foil shield. The purpose of the additional foil on individual pairs is to limit the amount of crosstalk between them.


F/FTP – Foiled/Foiled Twisted Pair : An overall foil shield with foil screened twisted pairs. Like F/UTP, this cable is commonly used in 10GBaseT applications.


U/FTP – Unshielded/Foiled Twisted Pair : No overall shielding or braid with foil-shielded twisted pairs. This cable is also frequently used in 10GBaseT applications.

 

U/UTP (UTP) – Unshielded/Unshielded Twisted Pair : Pairs of wires twisted together that are not shielded at all. These cables are often referred to as UTP andare one of the most basic methods used to help prevent electromagnetic interference. 

 

Cable Showdown: Cat6 vs. Cat6a

March 23, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

 

Cat6 and Cat6a may be two of the most popular standards for Ethernet cables, but how do you decide between them?  Depending on your application, one may work better than the other. To help you decide, we thought we’d stack them up side-by-side for a showdown.

 

  

 

Both Cat6 and Cat6a offer speed, flexibility and cost savings. They can both be used for PoE applications and are ideal for transmitting voice, video and data, though Cat6a is able to move larger volumes of data. Cat6 cables are great for connecting access points and other devices including media converters, switches and wireless controllers that are typically running at 1Gbps speeds. Cat6a cables are typically used in data centers and storage area networks (SAN) that require 10Gbps connectivity or more through trunked 10Gbps connections.

 

The cost difference between the two is minimal. The main difference is that Cat6a is able to transmit at 10 Gbps supporting 10GBASE-T over longer distances than Cat6 cables. Cat6a also builds upon Cat6’s capability to protect against alien crosstalk, which improves performance. Though if a shielded cable isn’t necessary and a lighter option would work best, unshielded Cat6 has the advantage. As always, the requirements of your application will dictate which cable to use.

 

5 Things You Need to Know About Shielded Ethernet Cables

August 18, 2016 at 8:00 AM

 

Shielded Ethernet cables are widely used, so you may know what they are. You may even be familiar with some of the advantages and disadvantages of using them. But if you want to dig a little deeper into the world of shielded Ethernet cables, here are 5 things you need to know.

 

1. A single-shielded Ethernet cable has the lightest available shield but still weighs 12% more on average than an unshielded cable. A double-shielded Ethernet cable weighs as much as 30% more than the unshielded version. This additional weight may not be a big deal if you are only running a few shorter cables, but if your network is using dozens or hundreds of shielded cables, the combined weight could be enough to damage a rack, cable ladder or other cable management infrastructure. 

 

2. Double-shielded cables  have both a foil and braid shield and can better protect data from EMI/RFI and alien crosstalk (AXT). This protection results in higher transmission speeds and fewer data transmission errors.

 

 

3. High-flex industrial cables are shielded and built for continuous or high-flex applications, and also employ special jacket materials to solve common industrial Ethernet problems. They are designed for environments where ordinary patch cables fail. These cables will not breakdown when exposed to oil based lubricants, making them ideal for robotic control systems on the factory floor.

 

4. Shielded IP67-rated and IP68-rated Ethernet cables use a hood around the male connector that can screw onto the barrel of a female jack for protection against moisture and dust. Shielding the cables and connectors ensures better performance and higher data transmission rates.  IP67 and IP68-rated cables are also protected from liquid immersion, giving them another layer of protection.

 

5. Shielded Ethernet cables provide maximum performance even in high EMI/RFI environments.   Category 6 shielded cables are designed to handle today's hi-speed Gigabit Ethernet applications. Category 6a cable assemblies offer true 10 Gigabit Ethernet speeds at frequencies up to 500 MHz, making them ideal for high speed computing applications often found in data centers. Both Cat6 and Cat6a shielded cables are designed to outperform with super speeds and shielding protecting your data from interference.

 

Cat6a - Taking Copper to the Next Level

July 28, 2016 at 8:00 AM

 

Copper cable has many advantages including flexibility, cost savings, and Power over Ethernet support– and now it can add lightning fast speeds to its list of attributes. Until recently, fiber cabling was the only way to achieve 10 Gigabit Ethernet data rates, but now Cat6a is taking copper to the next level with super-speed 10Gbps transmissions.

 

Cat6a cables can reach 10 Gigabit Ethernet speeds at frequencies of up to 500 MHz over low-cost copper cable. That makes Cat6a ten times faster than Cat6 and cheaper than fiber cabling. Cat6a is a high performance, cost-effective solution for moving large volumes of voice, video and data traffic over a network.  Its accelerated performance is perfect for use in data centers and storage area networks (SAN) that sometimes need to move terabits of data.

 

In addition to being fast, Cat6a supports longer distances than Cat6 with capabilities of up to 100 meters for 10GBASE-T. Cat6a cables are also backward-compatible with existing network infrastructure products, making for an easier migration path. Additionally, Cat6a cables are shielded which enhances overall performance and makes them more resistant to noise, interference and alien crosstalk.

 

With off the chart performance characteristics, Cat6a cables, couplers and other infrastructure products can take your network to the next level.

 

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